Question on Threaten and Mental Attacks

I can see the possibility of a socially adept character with a lot of charisma and personality (High Persuade, Personality etc.) becoming really effective in combat by Threatening minions. This seems to makes sense in come character descriptions but I can envision a number of characters where it just would seem odd. (Imagine a really skillful merchant or harlot with these abilities as an allied NPC using them to scare off enemy minions)

Granted I think almost any PC is probably going to have these traits along with a fairly combative or sorcerous kind of character but as said, they could appear in any number of NPCs that are anything but threatening. Is it therefore up to the GM to allow or disallow the use of Threaten by characters that essentially dont use their Persuade skills in that manner? It would seem pretty odd for the Devi’s daughter, who the players are escorting, to scare off brigands by the handful by waxing eloquent with palace charm.

Two points to mention. First, a merchant or harlot (or any other “flavor” character) isn’t going to have the wherewithal to engage most of the bigger Displays (main book pgs 125-126) that are prerequisites for Threaten attacks; they generally have to accomplish something to establish any threat they could represent. They won’t typically be covered in the blood and entrails of the enemies they’ve just slain, or be able to tip a 3-ton statue onto an enemy. Second, if you’re playing them as “real people” they’re more likely to take cover, slip out a side door, or hide in the pantry when faced with possible violence. Certainly, they might be able to Persuade people, but inflicting mental damage with threats isn’t likely to be their “thing”.

Each display has certain narrative requirements. And even though Steely Glare does not have such a requirement, I find it hard to justify that a merchant can stare down an army of soldiers.

So as a GM, I would at least increase the Difficulty of subsequent uses of Steely Glare since the army will at some point realize that the merchant does not really pose a threat.

Not to mention that Steely glare is opponent focused. You can only use it on one opponent at a time.

The way I justify it, everyone, in the face of danger, can justify a steely glare. Its up to the GM to decide when those moments apply. (Also if it’s a player doing it, just give it to them. They’re probably desperate)


Was there a talent to allow Steely Glare to be used as area attack?

Well there’s Heed My Words, from the Command tree.

I’m am discovering that this system really requires responsible, mature players and a seasoned GM, mutually committed to generating a cool Hyborian adventure. Your typical gaming fare are going to abuse the hell out of it.


All of the Modiphius 2d20 games share that vulnerability, but Conan isn’t quite as flimsy in the face of non-thematic play as Star Trek Adventures.

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Like most systems, you gotta abide by the Golden Rule.

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Personally, I’m pretty generous in interpreting Steely Glare as a catch-all “social attack” - as long as the player can come up with some justification that their action will be effective - which could just be a shouted threat, or some reference to the success of their peers - they can do it. It makes social characters have some impact in combat - a base 2 damage attack really isn’t much, even if that Stun quality can eat up Doom.

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This is a solid approach: Steely Glare is just an evocative name for what is basically the “unarmed attack” for threatening someone, so it’s up to each group how they want to describe it. Also remember that the GM can set the difficulty of skill tests according to circumstances: if you’re sword-fighting in knee-deep mud, the attack is more difficult, and similarly, if you’ve got no reasonable way of following through with your threats, it may be harder to make a Steely Glare attack.


You should note that any character can make the basic Threaten attack (p. 124 under BASIC ATTACKS heading). It uses the Persuade skill (buried in the DISPLAYS section under “Skill”); displays let you use alternative skills and/or inflict more mental damage than the base 2[cd] with the Stun quality. All mental damage is of course improved by Personality.

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I would like to ask, if the Threaten-Action in Close combat, i mean in “reach”, also does give the enemy a “Retaliate”- Action, because it just says 'it funktions the same way as range categorys used in Ranged attacks, but then again it is not really talked about that reaction specificly.
Could someone help me please?

i think in that case the rules are a bit weird and hard to understand

Hello! I believe that Retaliate is primarily triggered when you try to make a “non-attack skill test” while in melee with an NPC (or vice versa). Where Threaten is an attack (using Persuade as the skill in this case), I think you will be good to go, with no Retaliate.

Our group has found the rules regarding Melee Retaliate actions against Ranged weapons under the “Ranged” bullet under “Making an Attack” on page 117.

If the [Ranged] attacker has an enemy within Reach, then the Difficulty of the Ranged Weapons test increases by one step and the attacker may be subject to the Retaliate Reaction.

The “may” in the second statement, I assume, is predicated on whether or not the Melee opponent is engaged with another attacker or otherwise occupied.

I made an NPC whose Threaten attack is called “Not in the Face!” Basically, he’s so charming that he’s adept at preying on an enemy’s empathy by cringing dramatically when he’s about to get hit.

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thank you all allot for the fast anwers.

and also im happy, that i can read out of the different answers, that i am not the only one, who thought, that this specific rule was not explained all to clearly.
at first i thought it was just me, because english isnt my homelanguage :slight_smile:

@Gebir :yes that was my secound thought on it as well, but i wasnt sure, so i rather asked the people on here. But for me it seems to make more sence for no warrior would just stand there and listen to a enemy trying to talk him into desperation without even trying to use that time to strike the enemy

@HattoriHanzo : well that actually was my first thought too! i think ill just try both ways in the game and see what seems to make more sence at all

I would say absolutely, 100% someone being threatened by an opponent within reach can retaliate.
Have you guys ever been in a fight? or a bar? Or just watched a fight start? Or a weigh-in at a fight that started a fight etc…
Someone talking S&^% and immediately getting attacked in return for it is how most fights go. It’s also how people goad others into a fight in the first place.

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